Paradise of sweet delights, that’s what I thought when I arrived in Osaka. “Osaka food, here I come!” So if you are both a foodie and are planning to visit the land of the rising sun, then make sure you include Osaka in your list because here is where you will certainly find special treats. Some, of course, are found widely across the country but being the proud Osaka people they are, they have tweaked the recipes or even invented some. And if you are still not convinced, let these dishes speak for themselves.
So I had takoyaki before I came here but apparently that was not the “right kind” and so I had to try again. The street food store we went to was rather snobby about my request of getting a vegetarian version (I am not too keen on having a piece of squid arm in my food), but they plainly refused out of pride in their food. Oh, well. I took it out then when they looked away. And really, it tasted much different to the takoyaki I had before (which I also helped make). Both were delicious and I absolutely recommend trying some yourself. And don’t miss out on the amazing takoyaki sauce together with Japanese mayonese.
This one is a very general Japanese dish but the Osaka people are nonetheless very proud of it. Their special twist is the rich smell of katsuo dashi, which is a bonito stock in their kitsune udon. This type of udon was actually invented here and is served with light tasting soup and fried tofu. So get a bowl of those thick noodles and pour some sauce on top.
Yet again, a very typical trademark of Japanese cuisine and generally more attributed to a ‘Tokyo’ kind of food, but the Osaka style is the conveyor belt. Usually, it’s what tourists expect anyway but it is more of an industrial touch and for more low key restaurants. If you want high quality and classy, go to restaurants where the staff especially prepare the sushi for you.
One of the main dishes I was keen on trying in Japan, I was told to wait until I was in Osaka because here is the best place to have this classical Osaka food item. See the foodie pride again? Jep, Osaka is a foodie town. The best way to have them is if they are freshly prepared in front of your eyes with the two spatulas, called kote. Okonomiyaki comes in all kinds, from seafood, vegetarian, pork over to noodles on top of a pancake. The general batter is made from flour, eggs and cabbage, is then cooked on a iron plate and served with bitter-sweet sauce and/or mayonnaise. (Learn how to make okonomyiaki in my recipe.)
If you love fish, sashimi especially, and do not mind spending a good dime on high class food, then you should find tessa. It is blowfish sashimi sliced insanely thin and presented beautifully on a plate. Best try it with ponzu and momiji-oroshi. Or you can enjoy it just like it is.
Mostly translated as rolled eggs, this dish is a very common and quick one for people on the go. It can be filled with all kinds of thing, mostly with types of meat. You might find pork, beef or ‘hormones’ (which means ‘throwaway parts’ aka innerts). On top of the egg wrapping, you will find a pouring of ketchup.
Another must try for Osaka and a very handy ‘snack’ are the many types of skewers. You can find them everywhere and they are served with a dipping. But be aware that politeness and table manners request you only dip once! It is expressedly stressed for tourists wherever you find them, too. So no excuses! Skewers can have beef, pork, beef tongue, shrimps, octopus, lotus, quail eggs and different kinds of vegetables inside with a crispy tempura coating. In some places you can even find interesting reinterpretations, such as strawberries, Camembert cheese and ice cream. And yes, the ice cream version is cold in- and hot outside. (PS: Did you see my camembert recipe?)